Every time I arrive in this city, I feel like I've come home.
My first visit was with Zab back in 2008 to visit friends, but it wasn’t until 2012 when I ended up visiting three times that I realised just how much I enjoyed being in Berlin. Now after my fifth visit to the city last month, and mine and Zab's third joint visit, it's clear that we're completely in love with Berlin.
Why are we planning to move to Berlin?
There are many, many reasons we’re planning to make Berlin our home base, but first some practical ones:
- Zab and I can both speak German (Zab lived in Munich for close to five years before we met, and I studied German at school and have since spent a lot of time working in Austria). Although we're not completely fluent, we have a high enough command of the language to do all the day-to-day things we need to in a German speaking environment more or less. (However, it remains to be seen how our German will fare in the face of bureaucracy!)
- Germany is in the EU, meaning we, as EU citizens, can legally live and work there without the need for visas.
- We don’t want to live in the UK, but we do want to be based somewhere else in Europe as it is the part of the world we most feel at home in, and Berlin is well connected to the rest of the continent (where most of our friends and family live) as well as the rest of the world.
- Although prices have increased recently, for the capital city of the most powerful country in Europe, it is a reasonably inexpensive place to live.
There are also several less tangible reasons we want to live in Berlin:
- We are city boys. We like being in the countryside for short periods, but we need the vibrancy, culture, dynamism and variety of cities to feel invigorated and enthused.
- There are many places we’ve visited in the world that we’ve had the ‘I could totally live there’ moment, but on reflection, unless it is somewhere truly cosmopolitan, I don’t think we could. Being surrounded only by people who are just like us (ethnically, socially, politically) or being in the tiny minority of people who are not like everyone else is not how we like to live: we want to feel part of a worldwide community wherever we live. Multiculturalism is a must, and Berlin certainly has that.
- The food. This is of course related to the previous point, but the fact that we can eat at a European style vegan buffet brunch in the morning, followed by munching on authentic Lebanese falafel, hummus and foul in the afternoon and wolfing down a traditional north Indian curry for dinner all for €25 each is something I just can’t get enough of.
- There is also a great community of other travel bloggers who live here or who are planning to do so soon including Dan and Audrey, Adam and Victoria and Steve, all of whom we got to meet and got on with well at ITB while we were there in early March.
Does this mean we’re going to stop travelling?
Our plan is to spend the extended summer periods in Berlin, roughly May or June to September or October certainly with trips around Europe (including to the UK to visit friends and family) during that time, and then to travel further afield over the European winter.
The idea is basically to have a home base to travel from, a place to put all our stuff (which isn’t that much) and somewhere to call home. At first, there was more of a push from Zab for this, as I was happy with the idea of being nomadic for a while longer, however, the more steps we take to make it a reality, the more I like the idea. Now, we’re completely on the same page, and I’m very much looking forward to having a home again after almost five years without one.
Where exactly are we going to live?
We don’t know exactly yet, but Neukölln is looking particularly attractive, with its up-and-coming vibe, diverse mixture of residents and cheap prices. We knocked off a few areas of the city from our possible search while there in March after visiting and deciding they didn’t suit us. We’re still also considering Tempelhof, Kreuzberg and Schöneberg. Suggestions and comments on the where are very welcome, as we'll be returning in May to check out more places.
Want to know more about Berlin?
Where to begin? With some other cool travel blogs, of course!
Dan and Audrey's blog has been the source of some of my most precious Berlin tips, especially food related ones. Adam, who's been living here a while also has some excellent advice on getting the most out of the Berlin hipster scene and Jess and Dani, who spent a month here in summer 2013 compiled a quick guide to the city.